50 MIW honoree: Philomena Mantella

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Philomena Mantella. Courtesy 616 Media

Philomena Mantella

President

Grand Valley State University

 

Philomena Mantella has positioned herself as a national leader in education innovation and made big strides as Grand Valley State University’s first woman president since first stepping into the role in 2019. 

As leader of the university, Mantella oversees the management and operations of seven GVSU locations, including more than 3,500 employees and nearly 24,000 students.

Mantella has spearheaded several initiatives as GVSU’s president, including the reorganization of the university’s structure to better align with future-focused, mission-critical objectives, including the establishment of its Information Technology Division and expanding the Division of Enrollment Development and Education Outreach to encourage access and enrollment to underserved populations and aspiring students. In addition, Mantella led efforts to launch several programs that have garnered state and national attention, including its Lifelong Educational Attainment for Determined Students (LEADS) program in 2020, which provides online, accelerated degree programs for adults. The program’s quick success was proven in 2021, after experiencing a 72% enrollment increase. In an effort to reach underserved student populations, Mantella also led the creation of the REP4 scholarship program, offering aspiring students an opportunity to earn a full-ride scholarship through a summer program and national pitch event.

Upon settling into West Michigan, Mantella was quick to extend community support beyond the walls of GVSU. For over a year, she has served on Spectrum Health System’s board of directors, most recently as director, and is a member of the executive committee on the board of directors for The Right Place. She also was appointed by the governor to serve on the Michigan Education Trust board.

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